“That’s no moon. It’s a space station.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi, A New Hope
With peak oil right around the corner, coal mines turning our lungs and mountaintops black, tar sands oil extraction exacerbating conservation efforts, and natural gas production still totally fracked, earthlings need a creative new source of alternative energy. Leave that to Shimizu, a forward-thinking Japanese construction company. The firm has a bold plan for the future of energy production: to build a ring of solar panels around the equator of earth’s moon.
No, seriously—despite what it sounds like, this isn’t a scheme lifted from a pulp sci-fi novel. Dubbing the project LUNA RING, the company imagines a robotic staff building and maintaining an array of photovoltaic panels that span the circumference of the moon. The harvested energy would then be shot back to earth using high-powered microwaves or lasers.
According to The Futurist’s profile of LUNA RING, the moon’s surface continuously receives 13,000 terawatts of solar power, or about “650 times the amount of power the entire human population would need to continue to grow economically.” What’s more, “Solar collection on the lunar surface would be 10 times more efficient than it is on Earth, where our ozone and rich atmosphere make solar collection less efficient.”
Of course, government budgets are under the knife right now. “A project of such size and scope would require the willingness of hundreds of millions of souls to re-embrace government-funded space programs,” writes The Futurist. “It would require sacrifice in the form of higher taxes, cuts in other areas, or both. At present, this seems beyond the capacity of the developed world.” Finding funding for such an astronomically bold idea would be next to impossible, but as the article points out, “we said the same thing about reaching the Moon.”